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Want more women in leadership roles? Want to eliminate the gender pay gap? A recent column by HR Dive's senior editor Kate Tornone offers a counter-intuitive answer to both problems: Offer paid paternity leave. Tornone makes an interesting case for extending leave to fathers as well as mothers when a child is born. There's an unintended consequence if companies only offer maternity leave, she writes: “It's quite the cycle that we've created: offer or support only maternity leave; start to notice that women are the only ones out on leave; and then fail to hire or promote women because … they're just going to take maternity leave. It's enough to make this working mom's head explode.” Tornone cites research showing that offering paternity leave tends to encourage men to stay involved in their child's care beyond the leave period. “That means that when their middle schooler is sick, it doesn't always fall to moms to call out,” Tornone writes. “They take turns, burdening each employer or team equally, and chipping away at employers' fear, assumption and sometimes self-fulfilled prophecy that women might be present for fewer hours because of their responsibilities at home.” Citing Sweden as an example, she concludes: “[W]omen's salaries don't suffer as much when their male partners take time off.”
Would giving dads paid paternity leave improve gender diversity in leadership positions and encourage equal pay for women?